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Paul’s Anthropology in Context

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George H. van Kooten offers a radical contextualization of Paul’s view of man within the Graeco-Roman discourse of his day. On the one hand, important anthropological terminology such as “image of God” and “spirit” derives from the Jewish creation accounts of Genesis 1–2. On the other hand, this terminology appears to be compatible with reflections of Graeco-Roman philosophers on man as the image of God and on man’s mind, and is supplemented with Platonic concepts such as “the inner man.” For this reason, the author traces the development of Paul’s anthropology against the background of both ancient Judaism and ancient philosophy. Although he takes his starting point from Jewish texts, and is not out of tune with particular Jewish thoughts about the close relation between man and God, Paul, like Philo of Alexandria, seems to owe a lot to contemporary philosophical anthropology. Paul’s view, for instance, that man needs to be “transformed into the image of God” lacks Jewish antecedents, but reflects the pagan philosophical notion of man’s assimilation to God. George H. van Kooten emphasizes that it is no longer possible to deny the relevance of a Greek context for Paul’s view of man, and argues that Paul should be understood in the wake of the first century BC introduction of a comprehensive Platonic doctrine of man’s assimilation to God through virtue. Paul’s anthropology, which calls for inner transformation and is universally applicable, criticizes the superficial values of the sophistic movement in Corinth and the anthropomorphic images of the gods, and offers a strategy to overcome the ethnic tensions which divide the Christian community in Rome.

Key Features

  • Considers how Paul's perspectives on humanity were influenced by other ancient trends of thought
  • Presents contemporary views on Paul’s thought and theology
  • Provides a detailed subject and author index


  • The ‘Image of God’ in Ancient Judaism
  • The ‘Image of God’ and ‘Being Made Like God’ in Graeco-Roman Paganism
  • Philo’s Anti-Sophistic Interpretation of the Narratives of Moses’ Pentateuch
  • Paul versus the Sophists: Outward Performance and Rhetorical Competition within the Christian Community at Corinth
  • Paul on the two types of man
  • Paul’s Anti-Sophistic Interpretation of the Narrative of Moses’ Shining Face (Exod 34) in 2 Cor 3: Moses’ Strength, Well-being and (Transitory) Glory, according to Philo, Josephus, Paul, and the Corinthian Sophists
  • The Renewal of the ‘Discredited Mind’ Through Metamorphosis: Paul’s Universalist Anthropology in Romans

Product Details

  • Title: Paul’s Anthropology in Context: The Image of God, Assimilation to God, and Tripartite Man in Ancient Judaism, Ancient Philosophy and Early Christianity
  • Author: George H. van Kooten
  • Series: Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament (WUNT)
  • Publisher: Mohr Siebeck
  • Publication Date: 2008
  • Pages: 444
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Topic: Pauline Studies

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

George H. van Kooten is the director of the Research Institute for Culture, Religion and Society – Interdisciplinary Studies (CRASIS) in Graeco-Roman Antiquity at the University of Groningen, and dean of the faculty of theology & religious studies.

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    Digital list price: $39.99
    Save $20.00 (50%)

    Gathering interest